HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Don't Fear The Reefer
Pubdate: Fri, 18 Jan 2008
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2008 The Toronto Star
Author: Joe Fiorito
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Canada)
Bookmark: (Chronic Pain)


When Erin Maloughney came back from holidays - she was in Rhode Island
over Christmas visiting her new niece, a cute little kid - she found a
letter in the mail.

The letter, sent by lawyers representing the condo corporation that
runs her building, is a modern bit of correspondence, unimaginable a
few years ago. A few years ago the condo corporation would not have
written any letters. They'd have called the cops.

Erin is a medical user of marijuana.

She lives in a co-op downtown, a handsome and secure building not far
from the subway, close to everything she needs. Her building has a
pool, a sauna, a weight room, a library; she uses these often.

She is also licensed to grow a little dope at home, with the
permission of the government. I think that makes the condo corporation

A bit of background:

Erin broke her back in a car accident when she was in high school. She
recovered, painfully and partially, over several years.

And then, when she was grown up and working, she got clipped by a car
while riding her bike downtown - the driver's fault - and she broke
her back again.

The insurance settlement helped her buy the two-level, one-bedroom,
big-city apartment where she lives. She no longer works. She is in
constant pain.

She is growing 18 marijuana plants - that's all she needs - in what
used to be the closet of her bedroom. The closet reno was done by a
contractor friend; he did a nice job in a tight space.

But the condo corporation has expressed concerns about the safety of
the wiring, and the possibility of mould. Erin said, "Those are valid
issues in a multi-unit dwelling." She showed me around the other day.

Her closet is nothing like the drug-trade grow-ops you see on the
news. It is not damp, nor a hothouse, nor does she use mass amounts of
electricity, nor does she grow dope by the bushel, nor is there any
danger from outsiders. Her building has a politely vigilant concierge
on duty all the time.

Erin's needs are modest. She takes one hit every hour on the hour,
using a black ceramic bong; when that moment came - you could tell it
was coming on, because her eyes had gradually narrowed and her pain
now seemed to radiate from every pore - she went outside on her
balcony, fired up the bong with a barbecue lighter and inhaled once.

Legally, mind you.

She said that if she did not smoke, her pain would clock in at seven
out of 10 if, on the pain chart, 10 is blow-your-brains-out misery. A
single hit, once an hour, keeps her more or less at level three.

Beats opiates any day.

She said, "A lot of people think my garden grounds me. I sing to my
plants. I worry about them. I spray them. It gives me something to
do." That's important, when you can't walk very far. She said, "I have
a green thumb. I'm good at what I do." But the letter from the condo
corporation is stern.

She isn't sure what she will do.

You want a clue?

On her coffee table stands a handsome 18-inch figurine of Muhammad
Ali, dressed in white trunks and wearing boxing gloves, circa the
second Liston fight is my guess. Should anyone, butterfly or bee,
float past the champ, a motion sensor kicks in and there is that
voice: "I am the greatest."

If Erin were not also a pretty good fighter, she would not be walking

Stay tuned.
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